SymNet Designer Version 8.01 Release Notes

Copyright 2008, Symetrix, Inc.

Updated: November 17, 2008


Overview of contents of this file


I) Changes from previous versions
II) Known Issues

III) Installation Notes

IV) Upgrading Firmware for V8.0

V) Issues with Site files from previous versions of SymNet Designer



This document is intended for those users upgrading from Version 7.0x. If you are upgrading from an earlier version, you may also want to review the release notes from the relevant intermediate releases (e.g. V6.0, V5.5, V5.0, V4.0, V3.5, etc.). These can be found on the SymNet web site.

Note that saving a site file in version 8.0 will change its format and prevent it from being opened in previous versions.  This is discussed in more detail in V) Issues with Site files from previous versions of SymNet Designer below.

I) Changes from previous versions

Changes in V8.01 from V8.0

SymNet Designer V8.01 is a maintenance release for version 8.0. It is recommended that all users of V8.0 upgrade to V8.01.

1)       A problem was fixed with presets on Matrix Selectors.  In some cases, the selected input would be off by one after a preset was recalled.

2)       A problem was fixed with BGM Combiner modules where combine buttons could not be pressed in certain site files.

3)       A problem with Modular ARCs was fixed that sometimes caused their LEDs to toggle on and off continually.  New Modular ARC firmware V1.20 is included to fix this problem. Users must manually upgrade their Modular ARC firmware with the supplied file to take advantage of this fix.

4)       A problem with the Control I/O was fixed that on rare occasions could cause a Control I/O to miss a transition on an analog switch input.  New Control I/O firmware V1.07 is included to fix this problem. Users must manually upgrade their Control I/O firmware with the supplied file to take advantage of this fix.

5)       A problem was fixed where CobraLink devices could not receive on more than 10 separate bundles. In addition, fixes were made to accommodate future versions of the CobraNet CM-1 module.  New Microprocessor firmware V8.001 is included to fix this problem. Users must upgrade their devices with the supplied file to take advantage of this fix.

6)       A problem was fixed where Preset recall buttons did not print properly.

7)       A problem was fixed where the delay setting in Loudspeaker Manager modules was incorrect when site files from previous versions were opened in V8.0.

8)       A problem was fixed where designs using stereo panner modules sometimes didn’t correctly pass audio.

9)       A problem was fixed where buttons on Enhanced theme control screens didn’t draw properly when opening files from previous versions.

10)   A problem was fixed where site files with saved super-modules couldn’t display the super-module control screen when adding a new instance of the super-module.

11)   The display of Enhanced theme buttons has been improved for cases where the text is too large to fit inside the button.

12)   Units that have been disabled are now more distinct graphically.


Main New V8.0 Features (compared to V7.0x)

SymNet Designer V8.0 is a major release and has many enhancements compared to V7.0x.  In fact, it is one of our largest releases to date.


1)       A new sleek and modern look is available for all modules.  This “Enhanced theme” can be turned off if the previous look is preferred.  The previous look is now referred to as “Standard theme.”

2)       Dual-mono versions of some modules have been added.  These provide the functionality of two mono modules but use up much fewer DSP resources.  Most require only slightly more DSP than a single mono module so we suggest using them in any case where you have 2 identical mono modules. Most filter and dynamics plus selectors have dual-module versions.  Note that these modules are available only in Express units since they rely on DSP features not present in the original 8x8.

3)       Overall system operation has been sped up.  In particular opening, compiling, and downloading large files is much faster, in some cases over 10x.  Designs with many units using complex wiring will experience the most improvement.  As part of this improvement, a new compression algorithm is used for the archived sited file.  It compresses the file more quickly and efficiently.

4)       Context sensitive help has been added.  Pressing F1 will bring up help for the object displayed or selected in many cases.

5)       Many more items can be externally controlled.  Numeric controls (dB readouts, etc.) can now be externally controlled.  LEDs and Gain Reduction meters can now be assigned to controller numbers to allow for reading them externally. In fact, nearly every control in every module can be externally controlled or read.

6)       Matrix Selector modules have been added.  Conceptually, these provide the functionality of multiple input selectors wired in parallel.  They provide a more efficient way to implement a scenario where each of a number of outputs can receive exactly one input.  These modules may be found under the “Routers & Selectors” category.

7)       SymNet Designer 8.0 is now Windows Vista compatible. This feature resulted in some changes to the default locations where files are kept. For example site files and super-modules are now stored in My Documents by default instead of Program Files.

8)       New DeEsser modules have been added. These can be used to remove sibilance from speech signals or high frequencies in general from any program material.

9)       Panning modules have been added.  Stereo and LCR versions are included.

10)   Trim modules have been added that allow changing the gain of a signal from -24 to +24 dB.  They are more efficient than the existing gain modules, plus provide a more useful range of adjustment in some cases.

11)   LED Meter modules have been added.  These are intended for use by external control systems to provide limited metering, i.e. showing just a few discreet levels rather than a continuous meter.  One can specify up to 5 signal level thresholds and the module will indicate if the input signal is above each of the thresholds.

12)   Six and twelve channel versions of the Gain modules have been added.

13)   Six and twelve channel versions of the Radio Button modules have been added.

14)   Twelve channel versions of the Switch modules have been added.

15)   Twelve input versions of the Matrix Mixer modules have been added.

16)   A new 0-1 second Delay module has been added.

17)   For Input Selectors, more sizes are now available.  Every size from 2-16 channels is now supported so exactly the right size of module can be used.

18)   BGM Combiners now have mute buttons.

19)   The Limiter modules now have bypass controls.

20)   Priority Input Selector modules now have an “On” button for each channel.

21)   For Modular ARCs, a new Custom Radio Button mode is available.  This mode allows for better controlling modules such as input selectors.

22)   A controller linking feature has been added.  This option may be selected from the Controller Manager or Assign Controller dialog (Enable Controller Number Linking).  It allows two or more controllers with the same number to stay in sync, even if they are independently adjusted via presets or SymNet Designer.  It can also be used to link an LED to an internal control signal.

23)   The Text control has been enhanced with more options.  Users now have more options for size, borders, alignment, and background.  The enhanced Text control also can be used to create boxes for graphical grouping on control screens or designs (set the text to blank).

24)   Picture objects now support PNG and JPEG files instead of just BMP.  These formats support compression, which generally download faster.

25)   All module views have been adjusted so all controls line up on a 10-pixel grid.  This makes it easier to create control screens from the module controls.  By using grids, placement is simplified.  The spacing of most controls has been changed slightly because of this.

26)   Faders in control screens can now be converted to circular Knobs.  Knobs can be packed more densely so are useful where space is limited.

27)   A new control output module, the Xantech Output has been added.  It is intended to allow controlling a Xantech touch screen from within a SymNet system.

28)   The User Mode/Edit Mode setting is now linked between all designs and control screens.  Previously, this setting was adjustable for each control screen or design view individually.  This allows turning off edit for all designs or all control screens with one command.

29)   Some module categories have been renamed for clarity.  The “Mixers & Matrixes” category has been changed to “Mixers & Gains”.  “Matrixes” and “Stereo Matrixes” have been changed to “Matrix Mixers” and “Stereo Matrix Mixers” respectively to distinguish them from the new Matrix Selector modules. The sub-categories have been re-arranged so that mixers and gains are each grouped together.
The “Routers” category has been changed to “Routers & Selectors”.

30)   CobraNet latency is now controlled from the CobraNet Bundle Manager rather than from the properties of individual units.  This provides a single point of control and prevents inadvertently mis-matching latency settings between units.

31)   In Control Packer and Control Unpacker modules, individual inputs and outputs can now be named for documentation purposes.

32)   Details about modular ARC programming now appear in the Report.

33)   An improved retry system is used when hardware communications fail.  This should result in fewer cases of lost communication especially with slow or unreliable networks.  A side effect is that it may take slightly longer to report lost communication when a unit is disconnected.

34)   A new menu item Tools->Highlight Assigned/Preset Controls has been added.  When turned on, controls assigned to controllers are highlighted in green and those stored in presets are highlighted in magenta.  In previous versions of SymNet Designer, there was no way to turn off this highlighting.

35)   Objects in a design such as modules and wires and can be moved using the arrow keys, similarly to the way faders in control screens could be moved previously.  Undo now also correctly works with changes made via the arrow keys.

36)   Objects in a design or control screen can now be locked using a right-click menu option.  Locked objects cannot be moved or deleted.  This is useful for background bitmaps on control screens or protecting key design features.

37)   More options are available for customizing various objects on control screens.  The Properties dialog boxes for faders, buttons, LEDs, etc. now provide more control.  A few of the enhancements include naming individual radio buttons, changing LED colors, and converting faders to knobs.

38)   The functionality of Preset trigger buttons and Control Screen viewer buttons have been combined.  A common dialog box is used for editing them.  This allows a preset to be fired when a control screen is opened.

39)   Numeric controls are now edited differently.  Previously, clicking a numeric control would bring up a dialog box where the value could be changed.  Now, double-clicking the control will select it for editing in place.  When finished editing, press Enter or click elsewhere.  In addition, numeric controls can now be edited by clicking on the control and dragging.  Dragging up or right will increase the value while dragging down or left will decrease it.  If the Alt key is held down while dragging, the resolution is increased to allow for finer adjustments.

40)   Additional items have been added to the System menu, the menu you see when you click the icon in the upper left corner of a module or design view page.  In addition to the standard Windows commands (Maximize, Minimize, etc.), there are additional commands relevant to the window clicked, e.g. for modules, storing/recalling presets and assigning controllers.

41)   The Controller Manager now displays the total number of assigned RS-232/485 controls for reference.

42)   You can now select multiple RS-232/485 controllers in the Controller Manager.  This greatly speeds up editing or removing controllers.

43)   Hardware units no longer being sold such as the 8in, 8out, and DigIO have been moved under a “Legacy Units” heading in the toolkit.

44)   When attempting to close a site file that is currently on-line with hardware, a warning message is now given.

45)   Updating of ARCs has been improved, mainly when parameters they are controlling are changed via presets.

II) Known Issues

1)       When opening control screens from previous versions, they make look different in SymNet Designer 8.0.  One issue is that the minimum and maximum size of faders has been reduced.  This means that if the control screen used very large or very small faders, they may be re-sized to fit within the new limits.  This may result in controls overlapping or otherwise looking significantly different.  You may also noticed that some text objects appear slightly clipped.

III) Installation Notes

If you are upgrading at an existing installation that loads a configuration automatically on start-up, note that the configuration will not load after the firmware is upgraded until you re-download the site file using SymNet Designer 8.0.  Immediately after downloading the firmware, the unit will revert to the “scrolling LEDs” mode indicating no configuration is loaded.  To deal with this, the following procedure is required:


1.       Make sure you have a copy of the original site file (.sym file). If it exists on your local drive, skip to step #2. Otherwise, open SymNet Designer 7.0 and choose Hardware->Upload Entire Site File from SymNet. This will save the file to your local drive.

2.       Turn off the automatic configuration load by going to ‘Upgrade Firmware’, clicking on ‘Erase Memory’, selecting only ‘Triggers and Power on Default’ and pressing Erase. Repeat for all connected units.

3.       Upgrade the firmware as described below.

4.       Re-download your entire site file to the hardware. Open the site file in SymNet Designer 8.0 and choose Hardware->Download Entire Site File to SymNet (or press F4).

Following the re-download procedure listed above is necessary to ensure that the DSP code running in your hardware is the correct version to work with the new firmware and SymNet Designer application code.  In particular, the transition from version 7.0 to 8.0 has so many significant changes that a re-download is required.


Version 8.0 installs to a separate location than from previous versions on your hard drive. Version 8.0 will not interfere with your Version 1.x, 2.0, 3.x, 4.0, 5.x, 6.0, or 7.0 settings. Version 8.0 can cohabitate with previous versions on your PC. It is important to note, however, that the firmware on the hardware must match the version of SymNet Designer that communicates with it. Version 8.0 will only communicate with hardware that is running the firmware released with Version 8.0, etc. If you intend to switch between versions of SymNet Designer while using the same hardware, you must remember to change the firmware each time. SymNet Designer checks this on download and warns you if a mismatch is detected.

IV) Upgrading Firmware for V8.0

IMPORTANT: In order to run SymNet Designer version 8.0, the firmware in your hardware devices must be upgraded to the latest level. If you are receiving this software with a new SymNet device from the factory, then the firmware versions should already be correct. However, if you are using it with an existing SymNet device, then the firmware must be upgraded. (Information about the latest release versions is always available on the SymNet web site.) When you try to download a design to SymNet hardware, the firmware versions will be automatically checked and you will be told if an upgrade is required.

Note that there are also ‘Verify’ buttons in the ‘Upgrade Firmware’ dialog for the Microprocessor and FPGA files. These allow verifying that the Microprocessor and FPGA firmware files in your hardware exactly match the files on your hard disk.

NOTE: For CobraLink and Express Cobra units, there is also firmware from Cirrus Logic (formerly Peak Audio) that controls the CobraNet features. You may need to upgrade this firmware as well. See Upgrading CobraNet Firmware using CobraNet Discovery below for instructions.


Current Versions

As of this writing, the current versions of the SymNet firmware are as follows:

SymNet Microprocessor file: Version 8.001 (applies to SymNet DSP, CobraLink, and BreakIn/Out devices.)

SymNet DigIO/Express Microprocessor file: Version 8.001 (applies to SymNet DigIO and Express devices.)

SymNet FPGA file for SymNet DSP Devices: Version 8.000

SymNet FPGA file for CobraLink Devices: Version 8.000

SymNet FPGA file for BreakIn/Out Devices: Version 8.000

SymNet FPGA file for DigIO Devices: Version 8.000

SymNet FPGA file for Express Devices: Version 8.000

 (See Why are there two different files? below for more information.)


Upgrading Firmware using Auto Upgrade

1.       Follow the step above under Installation Notes above.

2.       Install SymNet Designer 8.0 using the provided Setup utility. This will copy the necessary firmware files to your hard drive.

3.       Launch the version of SymNet Designer that was just installed.

4.       Connect your hardware devices as they would be for normal operation. Disconnect or power down all audio devices, especially power amps and speakers, connected to SymNet during the upgrade.

5.       In SymNet Designer 8.0, choose Hardware->Upgrade Firmware. Press the Auto Upgrade button. This will upgrade all connected units. If you want, you can verify the correct versions on the connected units. Click the ‘Close’ button when you are finished.

If you encounter problems with this procedure, try the manual operation procedure below.


Upgrading Firmware – manual operation

1.       Follow the step above under Installation Notes above.

2.       Install SymNet Designer 8.0 using the provided Setup utility. This will copy the necessary firmware files to your hard drive.

3.       Launch the version of SymNet Designer that was just installed.

4.       Connect your hardware devices as they would be for normal operation. Disconnect or power down all audio devices, especially power amps and speakers, connected to SymNet during the upgrade.

5.       In SymNet Designer 8.0, choose Hardware->Upgrade Firmware. The dialog that appears will tell you the version of the firmware in your hardware devices.

6.       Click the ‘Upgrade’ button under SymNet Microprocessor file. An open file dialog will appear allowing you to navigate for firmware files. By default it should take you into the C:\Program Files\Symetrix\SymNet Designer 8.0\Upgrade folder. Select the file SymNet_MicroProc_V8000.bin and click ‘Open’. (If you are using a DigIO or Express, select that file instead.)

7.       After this finishes, click the ‘Upgrade’ button under SymNet FPGA file. Select the SymNet_FPGA_V8000.bit file and click ‘Open’. (If you are upgrading a CobraLink, BreakIn/Out, DigIO, or Express device, select the respective file instead.)

8.       If you have more than one SymNet device, select each device using the address dropdown at the top of the dialog box and repeat steps 5-6.

9.       If you are using CobraLink or Express Cobra and have more than one ring, also repeat for all devices on all rings using the Ring dropdown at the top of the dialog box.

10.   When finished, click ‘Close’.


Why are there two different files?

SymNet firmware has two components, the microprocessor file and the FPGA file. They are generally independent and both may need upgrading.

The microprocessor file contains the code that SymNet's embedded microprocessor runs. This microprocessor is responsible for communicating with the host, managing the DSPs, external control, and many other tasks. One version of the microprocessor file is common to all SymNet devices other than the DigIO and Express, i.e. SymNet DSP, CobraLink, and Break In/Out devices. A second microprocessor file is used with both DigIO and Express devices. The microprocessor file for these devices is prefixed with DigIO_Express_MicroProc. The file for all other devices is prefixed with SymNet_MicroProc. In both cases, the version number is contained in the file name.

The FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) file controls the programmable logic devices used in SymNet. These devices manage the SymLink bus, handle audio I/O, facilitate DSP communication, and perform several other tasks. The FPGA file is common to all SymNet DSP devices (i.e. 8x8, 8in, 8out). However, a different file is required for each of the CobraLink, BreakIn/Out, DigIO, and Express devices. The file intended for SymNet DSP devices is prefixed with SymNet_DSP_FPGA. The file intended for CobraLink devices is prefixed with CobraLink_FPGA. The file intended for BreakIn/Out devices is prefixed with BreakIO_FPGA. The file intended for DigIO devices is prefixed with DigIO_FPGA. The file intended for Express devices is prefixed with Express_FPGA. In all cases, the version number is contained in the file name. By default, SymNet Designer only shows you files valid for your particular unit and additionally checks the file contents to prevent you from using the wrong type of FPGA file.


Upgrading RS-485 device firmware

New releases may include new firmware versions for Symetrix RS-485 devices such as the Control I/O, Modular ARC family, and ARC-II. If new firmware is provided, it will usually be listed in the release notes section. To upgrade RS-485 device firmware, follow these steps.


1.       Follow the step above under Installation Notes above.

2.       Install SymNet Designer 8.0 using the provided Setup utility. This will copy the necessary firmware files to your hard drive.

3.       Launch the version of SymNet Designer that was just installed.

4.       Connect your RS-485 devices as they would be for normal operation. RS-485 devices must have unique addresses (set by DIP or rotary switches on the units, see the appropriate hardware Quick Start Guide for more information).

5.       If you are working with an existing site file that includes the RS-485 devices, open that site file.

6.       Choose Tools->Controller Manager. If your RS-485 devices are not listed under ‘RS-485 Controller Network’, you will need to add them. This can either be done manually using the ‘New RS-485 Device…’ button, or by sensing what units are connected using the ‘<< Upload’ button.

7.       For each RS-485 device that you wish to upgrade, select the device and click the Edit… button. In the dialog box that appears, click the ‘Upgrade Firmware…’ button. Choose the appropriate firmware file and press ‘Open’.  (You may also use ‘Verify Firmware’ to determine if upgrading is necessary.)

8.       Press ‘OK’ and continue to the next RS-485 device, if there are more.


Upgrading CobraNet Firmware using CobraNet Discovery

To take advantage of some new CobraNet features in SymNet Designer such as low latency, CobraLink units need to have CobraNet interface firmware V2.9.6 or later. Express Cobra units should use firmware V2.10.6 or later. However, these are minimums and it is advisable to use the most recent firmware which as of this writing, are V2.9.16 for CobraLink and 2.11.6 for Express Cobra. In particular, there are some important fixes in 2.11.6 that improve system reliability, so upgrading to Express Cobra units to 2.11.6 is strongly recommended. You can check the version of firmware running on your CobraLink unit using SymNet Designer. It is listed in the ‘Upgrade Firmware’ dialog after ‘Cobra Interface Firmware Version’. If you need to upgrade the firmware, follow these steps.


1.       Download and install CobraNet Discovery (aka “Disco”), Cirrus Logic’s utility for upgrading CobraNet firmware and monitoring a CobraNet network. This software is available from the Cirrus Logic CobraNet Downloads page.

2.       Obtain the latest CobraLink CM-1 or Express firmware from the SymNet web site. Unzip and copy the file to the CobraNet Discovery\firmware directory. By default, this is C:\Program Files\Cirrus Logic \CobraNet Discovery\firmware.

3.       Launch CobraNet Discovery and power up all CobraLink or Express Cobra units. All units must be attached to a network that is visible by the PC running Disco.

4.       For each unit, assign an IP address by right clicking and choosing New IP Address. The assigned address must be in the same sub-net as the PC running Disco.

5.       For each unit, upgrade the firmware by right clicking and choosing Update Firmware. Select Symetrix CobraLink version 2.9.16 for CobraLink units and Express version 2.11.6 for Express Cobra.

6.       When prompted, power cycle each unit.

V) Issues with Site files from previous versions of SymNet Designer

In version 8.0, the site file (.sym file) format has changed from previous versions. You will be able to open all previous version site files in version 8.0 or later. However, files saved with version 8.0 will not be readable by previous versions.


If you are working with site files from version 3.5x or older, there are some additional issues. Since version 3.5x and older site files supported eight configurations instead of only one, you must choose the configuration to load when opening site files from these older versions. When you first open a V3.5x or older site file in V8.0, the Select Configuration dialog box appears asking you which configuration you wish to load. (If a particular configuration was not used in that site file, ‘empty’ is displayed after the configuration name.) After you select a configuration, the file is opened with the filename changed to indicate the selected configuration. For example, if the original site file was named My Site.sym and you selected Configuration 1, the new filename would be My Site-Configuration1.sym. If your older site files use only one configuration, opening and re-saving once is all that is required to convert them to V8.0 format. If they use more than one configuration, you must repeat the process for all configurations. For example, if a previous-version site file used 3 configurations, you would need to open it 3 times, once for each used configuration. The result would be 3 new V8.0 site files. Note that the Select Configuration dialog box displays ‘empty’ after any configuration that was unused in the older site file to aid in determining how many configurations your file used.


If you intend to maintain both V8.0 and previous versions on your computer, we recommend the following guidelines to minimize difficulties with file formats:

A) Backup all previous version design files.
B) Don't use the same file names for Version 8.0 design files.
C) Choose the default locations when installing software.
D) Do not use version 8.0 software with previous versions of firmware or previous versions of software with version 8.0 firmware.

A) Backup all previous version design files.

It is recommended that you backup your version 6.0x or earlier design files to a secure location before using or installing Version 8.0. Even if all else goes completely wrong, as long as you have those files, there is a way to recreate your old setup. Note that once you save a file with SymNet Designer 8.0 and overwrite a file from a previous version, it will no longer be readable in the previous version of SymNet Designer.


B) Don't use the same file names for Version 8.0 design files.

If you are going to maintain both versions of the software on your PC, it is highly recommended that you include something in the file name of all previous version files you save to indicate their version. This way you will be able to tell the files apart if they become co-mingled.

Even if you are not going to maintain both versions, it is a good idea to use this practice at least until all your design files have been converted and you have fully embraced Version 8.0.


C) Choose the default locations when installing software.

When you install any version of SymNet Designer software, allow the installation to go to the default folder. This ensures that multiple versions will not interfere with each other.


D) Do not use version 8.0 software with previous versions of firmware or previous versions of software with version 8.0 firmware.

The versions of software and firmware must match! The only operation you should do that accesses hardware with mismatched software and firmware is to upgrade to the correct firmware. Upgrading is generally possible regardless of the firmware mismatch. If this is not the case, the release notes will make a point of mentioning this.